In the Clinical Hour

Written By Ankita Mohanty
you have to go and attend to It, your own suffering. Which means sitting with It but mostly fighting with It. Like really, doing all kinds of silent treatment and fists up and “nah, it’s not really like that,” and being like, “oh good, glad that’s all done now,” but then, “oh shit, it’s back!” And healing is zig zag like that, for me.
I have something to say to the ones getting me through the wilderness:
To Margie, I hope it is okay to say you have changed my life. To whichever forces of the universe are to thank for bringing our lives into intersection, I kneel down with hands to my heart in thanks to them. From the depths of my dream world, to the surreal and real memories of my childhood, to the magical material of the clinical hour, you go everywhere with me and take me with you, too. You see clearly, deeply, and with so much love; I learn from you all the time, with and without your presence. What an honor to continue working with you.

To SJ, when I look at you, I feel warm and snuggly, like I can be anyone and anything and you would still take me in. In your presence, I remember I am strong and brave and kind and most crucially, capable of this job. Your wisdom, always delivered with sweet ease, bundles me up for the next week until I see you again. My heart is heavy with the end of our individual supervisory relationship, and open to all there is to come. May the next season bring more yummy fruit.

To my loved ones here today, I thank you for the infinite ways you have supported me, amidst all these tears and fears. Those closest to me have felt the ways I have changed, the ways I give and can’t give anymore, and they love me still. Each relationship keeps me human enough for the work, and the work keeps me human enough for each relationship. 
​​I used to ask, as kind of an intellectual topic with friends, what is healing? All sorts of lofty ideas would emerge, very cute and smart. Now, I say it is every moment of forgetting and remembering what love is. Who knew something that sounded so pretty could be so fucking gnarly? Eat up countless tissue boxes, in its politest, most socially acceptable form.

In the clinical hour, 
You’re someone’s mother and father and sister and son
You’re their racist enactment, their privilege, their oppression, their fun
You’re a stranger, strange and getting stranger 
You’re a sleuth, a know-nothing, a know-it-all
You’re a best friend and never-a-friend
You’re perfect and not perfect enough
You’re a perp, a victim, a savior, a saint
You’re forever a mystery, per psychodynamic law
You’re the other actor in the dream

Then there’s your dream where you’re just you, flawed and human and raw. Like you were weeping on the bathroom floor the night before, or in couples therapy all wrung out, or beating yourself with well-used weapons like shame and self-hate, and today you’re up and about and someone’s therapist. This job gets you off the bathroom floor, out of bed; it puts you back together again. It says wake up! Be alive, be clear! Remember you’re whole? You are a channel for spirit, so clear your tubes and doorways, you’ve got 50 minutes of an hour to treat the other with utmost care. And when spirit catches on hooks, like despair, anger or fear, the shadows come through and you sit with them. You tolerate where you can, accept where you can, love as big as your heart allows, and later, cry and process and throw your hands up where you can. 
   
Relational therapy changes you at a cellular level. Doing this work tears apart your defenses, and your defenses tear you apart; a simultaneous destruction. And then you wonder who you were defending, who was that little girl? And then, you go further back and you find your mother as a little girl, and then your grandmother and great-grandmother and it goes so far back you don’t even know where the suffering began so you pretend it’s not there until it bites really hard and then –